Tag Archives: Garden

Pin of the day: Spring is in the air

schoolhouse rocks.

 

I spent a lot of Saturday in the garden, and I’m so pleased to have tidied up all of the front and side yards. No longer are they overgrown with weeds (or those herbs I planted and forgot what they are…), and although they are still looking a little wintery and bare, at least we’re up to presentable again. Maybe next winter I will learn how to make the best of at least the front garden…

The good news is, I could feel a little spring in the air, and I even spotted a pansy poking it’s head up. My bulbs are starting to sprout (even the ones around the tree on the lawn, despite being mown over twice already!), and I’m looking forward to a flourishing garden again in a few short weeks!

The image above has got me a few times this past week or so – it’s been popping up everywhere. I finally gave in and pinned it on my Backyard board. I love a little private garden oasis like the one glimpsed through these doors!

There is lots more to this house too – it’s a converted schoolhouse in Haarlem, with masses of light and open space, but with plenty of eclectic goings on to create that cosy feeling the Dutch are so good at. More pictures at sfgirlbybay and here.

Enjoy!

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It all adds up

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A month ago this was where we were at. And then I got all gloomy and felt like nothing was happening so I got a little envious over someone else’s awesome (finished) space…

But I’ve just collated all my photos of the last few weeks, and lo and behold – progress!

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If you feel like playing “spot the difference” you’re welcome to. If not, here are the answers:

– New deck joists
– Plants in planters
– New side garden
– All tidied up
– Decking timber ready and waiting!

So, starting with the biggie, here’s deck progress.

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We are extremely lucky to have Andre’s dad doing our building. Not only do we get a deck built, but we get babysitting at the same time. I feel pretty guilty about him trying to get a job done with them underfoot, but I’m assured he doesn’t mind, and I know he adores them and they him. It’s like trying to prise an oyster off a rock to get them back inside or playing in the front yard out of the way. So I’ve about given up, and just send regular trays of coffee and hot chocolate out to keep the grizzles to a minimum.

1029_1715These are from a couple of weeks ago, so there are now spacer bits (technical term!) between the joists to keep everything straight. You might spot them in another photo further down, but no promises.

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For a simple deck we seem to spend a lot of time in contemplation over the details. Andre and his Dad have had numerous discussions and quite a lot of mutterings over the confusing nature of the building code. I had a quick look and left them to it. I’m better at the grand scheme stage.

Polka dot gumboots definitely help with grand scheming (although my feet are starting to swelter in these so it might be time for some new DIY jandals).

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This is us trying to visualise the couple of steps down from the house, and a balustrade along the eastern side. 1029_8281 And the usual messy state of affairs:

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So, we’re excited to have some decking timber now ready to go, but builders between big jobs are in hot demand to complete lots of little jobs so we’re sharing him around and just grateful for the days when the white van pulls up in the drive!

Next. After shovelling a trailer load of dirt out of the backyard, the last thing I felt like was shovelling another load right back in. But it had to be done, and don’t tell Andre, but I kind of don’t mind jobs like this. At least not when I’m nearing the end… there’s satisfaction in shifting a cubic metre of soil!

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It was destined for these gigantic planters now never to be removed from our backyard in a million years. There have been many small steps with these planters in getting to this stage, but I won’t go into the detail just yet. I’m still mulling over my original plans for finishing touches.1029_1710

But one sunshowery day I got them all planted up. I wanted both screen-the-neighbours and fruit trees, so I picked out a couple of feijoas (two varieties is recommended because even though most types are self-pollinating, they still prefer company) and a mandarin. For now, I’ve underplanted with strawberries, just for fun, but once we get a few nibbles off them I plan to replace them with some more permanent ground cover like baby’s tears or Irish moss. We’ll see!

In the biggest pot I’ve just popped in a trio of daisies, for some colour, until our plum tree in the corner is dormant (next winter) and we can gently transplant it. It’s a great producer so I already have my fingers crossed we won’t harm it by shifting it.1029_1724

Last Saturday saw the remaining smaller pipes sitting in our drive cut up into planter sized bits. So we’re not done with planters yet…

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Last Saturday also saw a scruffy little strip of weeds transformed into a promising garden bed. Down the western side of the deck we have a narrow garden space alongside the neighbours fence. Originally it was full of all sorts of jungle-variety plants but gradually we have sent them all to the tip and these scrappy weeds took over for a while.

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Up against the house are were these trees, which we’ve been trimming away at for a few weeks, hoping if we take it slowly the neighbours won’t mind so much that suddenly there are no trees in the backyard offering privacy between us and them. But with a full height panel due to go up along that side of the deck I decided it was now or never and recruited Andre and his long arms to put them (me?) out of their misery.

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The pink flowering one was first to go (it was always a little neglected and scrappy looking, as well as scraped annoyingly on the windows in the slightest breeze) and bit by bit we started cutting down the tall one. At the very last minute, it got a reprieve. We decided it’ll probably be happy to share with the new planting we had planned, and will actually be helpful in providing an illusion of shade (it’s on the wrong side of the sun to really give any shade) over the deck. So it just got a severe trim in order to fit the panel alongside it.1029_1873

While Andre had yet another discussion with his Dad over the finer details of the deck plan, I got busy with some rocks that had been put aside after the big hole dig.

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Then we all pitched in to clear those pesky weeds and fill in with some leftover topsoil, before planting some gorgeous scented jasmine, and a few ferns that were growing mad up under the trees. Originally we were going to use some of the old decking timber to re-edge this garden bed (the railway sleepers that were there were a bit rotten and fell apart during the clear out stage) but the spur of the moment decision to make use of the rocks was a good one, even if we can’t remember whose it was! It’s the little unexpected jobs like this that really make a day feel like an achievement – completed in less than half an hour, and only using what is to hand. (A bit like this temporary sandpit of many months ago.)

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As for the jasmine… I chose it because it ticks a few boxes like fast-growing, minimal maintenance (once it grows it’ll be a bit tricky to get to in this narrow space), and good screening, but also because of its bonus smells so good factor. Because we need it to fill the space and not grow primarily on either the neighbours side fence, or the panel on the side of the deck, we have staked out (hah!) a frame for it to climb on right between the two. Of course it’ll grow where it likes, but I want to be able to trim it back off the fence or deck panel if/when necessary so this middle-ground structure is where I’ll do my best to train it to.1029_8346 1029_8345I did underestimate my staking requirement initially, but now have another pack waiting to be added to this frame so there is somewhere for my little jasmines to aim for next.1029_1877

And that yucca-y tree at the north end… days are numbered. Neighbours love it, I hate it, Andre’s somewhere in between. So until my little jasmines grow a little, it stays put. But the day is coming when the jasmines and I will slowly but surely prove it’s ugliness and uselessness. All it does is drop those annoying fronds and it doesn’t even smell nice – right jasmines?!

It’s a little hard to tell in the latest “after” photo, with the new stack of decking timber under cover (here it is again so you don’t have to scroll all the way back)…

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…but Andre had a huge tidy up out the back here. Piles of timber got shifted and nails and sawdust cleaned up. I was out first thing on Saturday and came back expecting some “real work” to be underway, but was pleasantly surprised with this. If ever you’re feeling disheartened about progress or lack thereof, just opt for a real good tidy up instead. It works wonders and feels just as good as progress.

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While we’re on the progress train, here’s another something to keep it going…

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The front yard is looking fabulous with spring helping the front garden flourish. My hydrangeas have taken off, after more than a year of being less than impressive, and sending me running for more ground cover plants and some sweet flowers to fill in the gaps, and even wondering if I’d have to pull them out and put something else in. But they’re telling me “not so hasty naive new gardener – good things take time!”

1029_1865Delighted to bring them inside to enjoy too!

Enormous post – thanks for sticking it out to the end!

Backyard planning: A vision for privacy and safety

We could go to Bunnings and purchased a readymade balustrade system. Or we could custom design a different style of balustrading or screening on all sides of our deck.

10 points for guessing correctly. Actually make that 0 points – it’s far too obvious.

If there is anything consistent in our renovation style, it is doing things a little differently. Not because we like to be awkward, but because we like to create a space that suits us – our family and the things we like. What is a home if not a place to be yourself?

With that little disclaimer out of the way, this is what we have planned for the screening and balustrading part of our deck. Andre did render a much more accurate and engineered illustration, but it’s been misplaced (probably in the car) so this is my 30 second reinterpretation. 1004_1510

So, starting at the left as we stand gazing out the french doors off the dining area because it’s the logical thing to do…

This is the side that faces the neighbours driveway and beyond to another neighbour, as well as being the highest point in the backyard, so we want to have a reasonably solid screen along there. My inspiration picture is below, at bottom left. A little bit of mid century style, along with an easy build, and the ability to make this a real feature with some colour (that’s a discussion for another post!) put this to the forefront of my deck design mind. We may or may not leave the top section open as we will have screen planting in behind (between the fence and this screen there is about 600mm) but we can decide when we get to that point.

Along the front edge is where it gets a bit tricky, because it’s where we need some privacy from the neighbours, but don’t want to block our sun or our view to a favourite Auckland landmark. I got an estimate for a custom cut metal screen, but at around the $2k mark it’s definitely not an option. I must have had the top right image below fermenting in my mind because I’ve settled on a planter box, with wires running to a roof frame for a climber to climb to its hearts content (until it blocks our view and we have to take the clippers to it). Greenery screenery. If you’re not getting this vision, try flipping the top right image below on its side and inserting onto the top left image. Better?

And finally on the right hand side we’re going back to retro with a wrought iron (or similar) balustrade which we keep spotting all over town, but with a narrower V to comply with modern safety standards. I have my fingers crossed Andre’s contacts can help with this one on a budget, otherwise we’ll be back to the drawing board.

It’s a real mix of shapes and texture and materials, but I can’t wait to see how it all comes together. Hopefully it marries happily ever after and doesn’t fight nasty.

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Oh! We missed some pictures above… those stairs? Just in case there isn’t enough material variety already, I have my heart set on a brick wall slash handrail for the stairs which run down the right side of the deck (looking out from the house). Below is my amazing technical drawing of how that might appear (minus any sense of scale or straightness). The stairs themselves will just be straightforward timber ones – easy peasy!

And before I go, just one last thing. We’re framing in a “roof” to our outdoor room (flash term for the humble deck) which at this point will just be posts up each corner and then rafters (term?) along the three open sides. It’s still up for debate whether these will be timber, or steel as per top right, above.

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All this talk of multiple materials and styles and textures and shapes and heights and patterns is making me a little nervous. Will it look amazing??! I’m counting on it!

If you missed the last backyard planning posts with full layouts, they’re here and here.

A quick weekend update on the patio

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Once upon a time, a very long time ago… this baseboard on the patio was all prepped and ready for painting. But then it rained, and winter arrived, and the paint was never applied.

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But I took a chance on the weather this weekend and got it done. A couple of minor showers weren’t going to stop me this time! I used Dulux Weathershield in Semi Gloss, and the colour is Eighth Friar Grey (a Resene colour). It’s the same as our painter used on the other baseboards, gutterboards and sills for the rest of the house, but this baseboard was hidden behind a raised garden bed at the time.

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Remember this first glimpse at our patio progress, and the funny story about the table and chairs?

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That was way back before we ripped up the lawn and resowed! And it’s not just the lawn that has come a long way. Here’s the patio now, after the addition of pavers, some planting, and my painting efforts from the weekend.

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I do need to get some bigger statement pots, to make this area more of a feature, and we also plan to try and get some moss to take in between those planters… we got it wrong the first time! Also, it’d be nice when the pavers weather to match the concrete some more.

But for now, the little patio is a great spot for al fresco lunches on a sunny day, and as the weather warms up some more it’ll be al fresco breakfasts too!

At the other front corner of the house, spring is helping things along with the perfect mixture of rain, sun and warmer temperatures. It’s a good time of year for gardeners like me – stuff it in the ground and sit back and watch it grow! That lavender is on a takeover mission… hydrangeas look out!

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Loads more happened this weekend – there was concrete, new deck posts, trailer loads of dirt and some waterproofed planters. I shall do my very best to share pictures in the next couple of days.

Small spaces: Organic gardening

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The beautiful winter sunshine is turning my head outdoors at the moment… and the weekend brought some much needed pottering (love that word!) in the garden after too many weeks of neglect.

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I’m not much of a gardener, but I’m learning, thanks to Xanthe White and her Organic Vegetable Gardening book. Before each planting session I sit and pore over it and make a list for the garden centre. This time it was beetroot (apparently so easy but I’m still trying to grow something bigger than a baby’s fist), cauliflower, lettuce, potatoes, and celery. I was also looking for marigolds, basil and horseradish as companions for the above but I’m a bit early… The book even comes outside with me when I’m planting so I can work out the best positioning for my plants to give them a chance at flourishing!

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For beginner gardeners like myself, small raised garden beds feel more manageable than one big garden and the brick beds Xanthe creates in her book are such a gorgeous example. They inspired our original back yard plan, but we’ve veered to more of a play space out back now, and will probably keep our vege garden along the side of the house where it is now. Definitely hoping to incorporate some brick out back still though…!

 

 

Small spaces: A garden studio

This is the most beautiful studio I’ve seen in a very long time. Frankly, it could have nothing in it and I’d love it just the same. To be inside a little room like this and see glimpses of the green outside would make me a very happy girl. No matter if it’s raining, but it would be loveliest of all with sunlight streaming in those awesome windows.

Gushy much? Sorry… it’s just, well… stunning.

Do you think I’m scheming for that little corner of our backyard I’m not sure what to do with? Absolutely I am!

This studio is part of a garden design by Scott Lewis Landscape Architecture. Spotted via Made from Scratch’s pin.